Saturday, August 20, 2011

How To Get Unstuck

Ravina Sniper hits a wall that all of us are familiar with in this post.  Your wardrobe is kind of there, but not really. You don't have the time, energy, money, style icons, creativity, aesthetic resources, skill, fill-in-the-blank to move towards the wardrobe goals that have become even more important to you. banananutmuffin started a very interesting thread on the You Look Fab forum recently stating another common reason for style-stuckness. She titled the thread "What to do wear when your style is incongruent with your lifestyle?"  banananutmuffin is a stay at home mom with an infant and toddler plus chickens to much out every morning - with a bombshell/minimalist style profile. You end up getting a job that will allow you to afford those gorgeous designer duds you crave - but the job involves solvents, adhesives, and grubbing around on your hands and knees. Your checkbook is finally flush and J. Peterman goes bankrupt. ***

I've been there more often than i like to think about, certainly! But happily i have learned from these times. So i'm embarking on a series of posts to set forth what i've learned - tips and tricks, strategies, what/how to research, helpful philosphies. If you have any questions about this general area, send me an e-mail or leave a comment and i'll answer as best i can.

Today - monochrome looks and the power of newtrals. For whatever reason, monochrome looks and newtrals read as higher quality, classic, and chic. Monochrome looks are straightforward to put together, the color scheme automatically gives the look a cohesiveness and that 'pulled together' vibe. As in the pictures for this post, there's no need to do the 'matchy matchy' thing - mix up a range of camel-ivory, dove grey through to charcoal, navy blue through dark wash denim. The first outfit was dirt cheap - no piece cost me more than $10. But the overall feel is much richer and more chic.

Now i'm a notorious newt-lover. Take this into account while reading the following. I'm not suggesting everyone compose a newt-only wardrobe. But including a nice proportion of newtrals that flatter you and work well with your favorite colors can really grease the wheels of your wardrobe. It can be really hard to find enough acid-green pieces to coordinate into a great, chic look. It's much easier (especially with limited resources) to find one great acid green showcase item to blend with some tan, camel, and khaki items to make a great look. Newts are flexible and play well with many, many colors - a wardrobe with 1/3 newtrals will offer many more mixing options than one with 100% 'color colors'.

Neutrals also come in many shades and colors. Black and white are standard. But don't forget denim blue, navy, charcoal, dove grey, olive drab, army green, khaki, camel, ivory, tan, taupe.......i'm all about tan, taupe, beige, khaki.....but Ravina's wonderful purples and burgundies would blend beautifully with medium to dark greys and inky navy blues. And individual newtral colors come in many many variations. Denim blue ranges from inky dark blue all through to faded sky blue.  If you choose one newtral to bring into your wardrobe, don't neglect the options you can make for yourself by bringing in a range of that newtral.

This part is a wee bit technical, but i hope i'll get the point across.  The fibres used to make fabric are dyed with chemicals. These chemicals all have various properties - some are cheaper, some more expensive, some 'take' better than others on various fibres, some fade very quickly and others last forever. All of these qualities have impacts on your garment - price, life length, etc. For whatever reason, most neutrals seem to come form less expensive, better quality dye chemicals. So a nice black or khaki will be cheaper, look richer, and last longer than, say, your average medium pink or mustard yellow. This is just a general rule gathered from long years of experience (hanging onto clothes for much too long!)  But i have found that many cheaper 'colors' just look - cheap. And they don't last that long. If you look around and find yourself persuaded of this idea, you may wish to take it into consideration in your own wardrobe planning.

*** not that this still bothers me. a dozen long, excruciating years later.........


  1. Now I know some of the technical reasons I like neutrals! And YOU wear them so well, too!

  2. Oh I totally relate to what you are talking about in paragraph one and two and the wardrobe lifestyle mismatch - I wish my lifestyle matched my wardrobe - I look like I need to go out for cocktails or walk a red carpet five nights a week when really all I do is work and collapse at home tired!
    You've reminded me of the power of a classic denim jacket to make a casual outfit - I lost one like yours years ago and really miss it (and haven't found a classic cut to stand in its shoes since!).
    Interesting tit bit about the expense vs duration of nuetral dyes!

  3. Thank you for this! It's funny, every time I've gone shopping lately I find myself with an armful of black, grey and navy pieces and think "jeez, somber much?" Yet when I look at my closet I realize that the reason I have such a hard time with it is because EVERYTHING in there is a color. I need to bulk up on my neutrals in order to more effectively utilize my colors and prints!

  4. You do neutrals so well, and by wearing ivories close to your face you bring out that healthful natural glow in your complexion.

    Sounds like a compliment, right? And it is, of course, as you always look so lovely. But it's also an observation that you've discovered what works for your skin tone - the best neutral for you. I think this is key, because (for example) a charcoal gray top would have me looking as pale as a cadaver while on Ravina it would likely be smashing.

    I still struggle with this too. It's easy to be seduced by the cute piece in a store and forget that it needs to be incorporated into an outfit. And while a loud plaid and a bright floral print can theoretically pair nicely, the reality is that some good neutrals create a foundation from which our creativity builds.

  5. You do neutrals so well, and you are so right, they do give a very "classy" look to an ensemble.

  6. Rebecca - thank you & glad you learned something :)

    Hello Veshoevius! who in the world would think you, of all people, would have some species of 'wardrobe unhappiness' at all! i'm so glad you commented here - so many times we just think 'well, if i had the scrilla (or time or lost 5 pounds or) all my problems would go away'. but it's not true! we can do so much whatever our situation if we take the time to research, plan, and think creatively!

    i got that jacket a couple of months ago during one of ilegirl's thrifting outings for $5 and have worn it constantly since. best of luck finding yours quick!!

    Yay Ravina! so i'm not completely off base!! you know, i'm wondering if that's one reason you like those new Tsubo's so much - the neutral grey works beautifully with all your 'color colors'.

    Hullo P! very well put! i'm going to put this up in my next post so it doesn't get lost. :)

    Thank you Carolyn! i'm still agog over those scrunchy leggings......

    happy sunday everyone!! steph

  7. Helpful neutral tips and you look great! Lately I just grab for the first item I touch and go from there. Not exactly a wardrobe strategy, but it's the one I have for now.

  8. I love the clever spelling of newtrals. I know that a year ago I was shades of grey all the way...and then there came a day when I decided that this particular neutral was no longer doing my greying self any favors.

  9. Hello Judith! aw, you're a sweetie :) sounds like a decent strategy to me - at least you're up and getting dressed every day, which is a big deal. and you're waaaaaay beyond just pulling on sweats, lady! (man alive, the vivienne w dress!! swoon.....)

    Hi Terri! i love the california newt, usually i put in some hyperlinks - here's a link for you:

    the need to update one's style persona, or aspects thereof, pops up repeatedly and at the strangest times. you look great in colors, and seem to be having a ball with them!

    it's all down to unique circumstances.....

    happy monday! steph

  10. Aww, glad to see you are a fellow California newt enthusiast! Those pictures are so cute!

    These outfits are really lovely. I'm also finding myself drawn to neutrals lately and have realized they're really flattering to my skin tone. Many of my more recent purchases have been neutrals, and I appreciate how easily they work together.

  11. Thank you Audi :) i must admit i'm not surprised that we share a love of those little aquatic-orgy-loving critters!! they are marvelous!

    "....I appreciate how easily they work together." so true! and there are always times in life when ease in dressing is a treasure. Give those poochies a hug for me!! take care, stpeh